Major fires in the Eastern Cape keep WOF firefighters busy

THE Department of Environmental Affairs said its Working on Fire (WOF) programme continues to show its commitment in saving lives and protecting the environment.

June 09, 2017. Firefighters keep the fire away from housesin Buffulo Bay near Knysna . PICTURE: ESA ALEXANDER/THETIMES

In the Eastern Cape, several teams have been battling huge fires, proof that this year is going to be a busy winter fire season compared to other years.

During the first week of June, more than 300 firefighters were dispatched to suppress a fire in Tsitsikamma in the west district of the province. WOF firefighters from Mpumalanga, North West and Eastern Cape were deployed to contain the fire. This fire went for 12 days and damaged an estimated 2 000 hectares before it was contained.

Teams from the east district of the Eastern Cape are currently battling an ongoing fire that started 16 days ago in Langeni Singisi Forest.

There have been 16 fires in the province since the start of June.

Ground operations manager of WOF in the Eastern Cape, Vuyo Poponi said that the fire in Langeni has thus far burnt an estimated 1 127 hectares since it started.

“We currently have more than 100 firefighters from Langeni, Dwesa, Nqadu, Molteno, Port St Johns, Elliot and Cedarville teams working on this fire,” said Poponi.

He added that teams are currently doing mop up operations while others are patroling around the forest to check for new flares up.

“As we see that 2017 fire season seem to be very hectic,we would like to urge people to stop starting unwated fires as this could damage properties and lives could be lost,” he said.

He said that WOF ariel resourses have been assisting in the first days of these fires. At the moment teams that are not on the fire line are doing school and community fire awareness to educate everyone on how to be fire-safe.

“Pupils and community members are taught on dangers of fires, prevention measures and also how to fight fires,” Poponi said.


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